Physical health often gets the most publicity, but mental health is just as important. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank and Harvard University, eight of the 10 leading causes of disabilities in the world are related to mental health.
Mental health problems include social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and various personality disorders. If you suffer from a mental health problem, the good news is there are many treatment options.
Depression – This medical illness involves both mind and body. It can cause a variety of emotional and physical problems. Depression sufferers may not be able to function in their normal daily routines, and it may make people feel that is worthless.
Social Anxiety – While some anxiety is perfectly normal, extreme anxiety in everyday social situations is not. But, those who suffer from a social anxiety disorder deal with this all the time.
ADHD – Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. People with ADHD have problems with paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
Bipolar Disorder – This serious disorder is characterized by extreme swings in mood and actions; at one point a person can be exuberant and excited, then change to depressed; go from reckless behavior to lifelessness.
Schizophrenia – Symptoms include distorted thinking and hallucinations. Schizophrenia can also cause the sufferer to be fearful and paranoid
Mental Health Symptoms
- Depressive mood
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Social anxiety
- Loss of interests
- Thoughts of suicide
Mental Health Causes
The causes of mental health problems vary between genetic and environmental influences. Some causes for depression include:
Biochemical – Evidence shows that the brains of people with depression are physically changed. Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, linked to mood, and hormonal imbalances could also play a role in depression.
Genetics – No matter what kind of mental disorder you’re talking about, the condition is quite possibly being handed down genetically from relatives.
Environmental – Your environment is also a possible culprit. Environmental causes include the loss of a loved one, financial problems and stress at work.
- A genetic predisposition to a mental health disorder
- Stressful life events
- Illicit drug abuse
- Side effects of prescription or over-the-counter drugs
- Chronic alcohol consumption
- Post-pregnancy (postpartum depression)
Mental Health Treatment
There are several treatment approaches for mental health disorders, including some interesting new developments. The two most common treatments are medications and psychotherapy.
A less common and somewhat controversial method is electroconvulsive therapy (shock therapy). It’s used for severe depression where other treatments were ineffective.
Brain stimulation is an emerging treatment for depression. The treatment was first used in the U.S. in 1997 by neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinic in Florida. It’s used for Parkinson’s disease, cluster headache depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain among other ailments.
Here is just a sampling of popular mental health medications:
Combination Antipsychotic and Antidepressant Medication: Symbyax Prozac Zyprexa
Antipsychotic Medications: Abilify Clozaril Fanapt Geodon Haldol Invega Loxitane
Antidepressant Medications: Lexapro Paxil Prozac Zoloft
Anti-anxiety Medications: Klonopin Valium Xanax
How to treat depression without drugs
How To Treat Depression without Drugs
There are many potential alternative or complimentary approaches to treating mental disorders. Here are just a few:
Yoga and Meditation – More and more studies are supporting the benefits of yoga and meditation. By reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and easing respiration, yoga and meditation give people a perpetual calming effect.
Aromatherapy – Essential oils and similar aromatic compounds from plants are used to improve mood, cognitive function, or overall health. The consensus among most medical professionals is that there is some evidence that aromatherapy works, but more studies are needed.
- Lavender aromatherapy is traditionally believed to help treat anxiety.
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) may reduce agitation in people with severe dementia when applied to the face and arms twice daily. Steam inhalation of lavender aromatherapy may have similar effects.
Light therapy – Exposure to the bright light from a light therapy box is believed to alter the patient’s circadian rhythms and suppress the body’s natural product of melatonin. Together, these cause biochemical changes in your brain that help reduce or control symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and other conditions.
Hypnosis – When hypnosis is used for mental health purposes, it’s referred to as hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapists often use exercises that bring about deep relaxation and an altered state of consciousness, also known as a trance. In fact, hypnosis can teach people how to master their own states of awareness, which in turn can affect their own psychological responses.
Acupuncture – Research suggests that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for depression. One study conducted by psychologist John Allen of University of Arizona suggests that acupuncture may be as effective in treating depression as psychotherapy or drug therapy.
Massage – While studies are lacking in support of massage therapy for mental health issues such as depression, there have been reports by people who claim that their symptoms were lessened as a result of massage.
Mental Health Prevention
Mental health disorders are largely very difficult to prevent. In part, because they are often a part of your chemical make-up or an unavoidable hardship. However, there are some ways to optimize your chances of sound mental health. Stay physically fit, keep a positive attitude, maintain friendships and interests (hobbies), and if all else fails seek medical and/or counseling.
Mental Health Resources
National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) http://www.samhsa.gov/
Psych Central http://psychcentral.com/resources/